The great LeRoy Neiman died yesterday. His paintings were ballsy and so was he.
Alex Belth at Bronx Banter has reprinted an old Pete Dexter Esquire piece on Neiman, man about town. Here's an excerpt:
LeRoy leans closer. "Have you ever heard of Mad Dog Vachon?" he says. "Andre the Giant? They're wrestlers. Very big people, and very crude. A person I know called and asked if I would come to Ottawa, Canada, and sketch wrestling. They were doing a telecast, and wanted me at ringside to give it credibility."
"So I flew to Montreal and we took a limousine—you've got to insist on a limo and the best room or else they'll take advantage of you—and we drove about one hundred miles to the arena. I had a chick with me—a magnificent animal—and they put us right at ringside.
"The man who arranged for me to be there had told me that Mad Dog would point at me and call me names as part of the show. After the wrestlers were introduced, Mad Dog pretended to suddenly notice me sitting there, and he yelled, ‘I want that man removed. I want to see what he's drawing.'
"I turned to the chick and said, ‘He's really good.' Then Mad Dog reached through the ropes and grabbed my leather drawing pad. I take it everywhere, and nobody is allowed to do that. I tried to pull it back. I said, ‘All right, that's enough. These are my sketches,' but Mad Dog pulled the pad and me with it right out of my seat, and then he crumpled up all my drawings."
And you wonder why artists are so moody.
LeRoy says, "I yelled at him then that he had gone too far. He picked me up over his head and began whirling me around and around, the crowd went crazy, and then he finally threw me on the floor. That's how wrestlers take criticism. I picked up my things and told the woman I was with that they had gone too far. We went back to the dressing room to complain, and after a while Mad Dog came in and said, ‘I didn't do nothin'.' Unbelievably crude.
Now go read the whole thing.